Starbucks Fires Worker who Sparked Union Campaign

April 3, 2023

Starbucks fired Alexis Rizzo over the weekend, the employee responsible for sparking the Starbucks Workers United union campaign.

The firing came just days after former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testified before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee about union busting.

Nearly 300 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize under Starbucks Workers United, according to data from the National Labor Relations Board. The union has made more than 500 complaints of unfair labor practices related to Starbucks with the NLRB. 

Judges have found that the company has broken federal labor law some 130 times while the NLRB has reportedly called Starbucks’ refusal to bargain over Zoom illegal. 

During his grilling on Capitol Hill, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) accused Starbucks of engaging in “most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country.”

Schultz denied multiple times during the hearing that the company had ever broken any federal law. 

Further, Starbucks has filed roughly 100 of its own complaints against the union.

Workers strikes took place last year at Starbucks stores throughout the U.S.—notably including a walkout by more than 1,000 baristas at 100 stores on November 17th, which was the coffee chain’s “Red Cup Day,” an annual promotion that gives away free reusable cups to customers who order a holiday drink.

None of the nearly 300 unionized stores has yet agreed on a contract with Starbucks.

Starbucks Workers United tweeted about Rizzo’s firing on Saturday. The union said she was a seven-year shift supervisor who “ignited a movement.”

In an interview with CNBC, Rizzo said she was “heartbroken,” having worked for Starbucks in Buffalo, New York since she was 17 years old.

“It’s like my entire support system, and I think that they knew that,” she said.

According to Rizzo, her store managers fired her after she finished her shift Friday, claiming she had been late of four occasions. 

Two of those times, Rizzo said, she’d been late by one minute. However, Starbucks told CNBC that Rizzo had missed more than four hours of work over the course of those instances, and that she’d repeatedly been written up for lateness, which a Starbucks spokesperson said had impacted other employees at the store.

Rizzo also said that two other employees were fired, which she speculated was not a coincidence “two days after Howard Schultz had his ego bruised the way that he did” by the Senate committee. 

PHOTO: Starbucks Center, Seattle

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